Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Let Him Deny Himself ...and Go to the Chopping Block Daily

"And [Jesus] said to them all,
'If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,
and take up his cross daily, and follow me.'"

A thought occurred to me yesterday as I was reading this verse in the Gospel of Luke.

Jesus said this before he died on the cross so the disciples weren't thinking of His sacrifice and death when He said it. Their thoughts probably turned to terrible scenes they had seen and horrible stories they had heard, of people writhing in agony as they died for some terrible crime. "Taking up one's cross" probably did not strike them as a beautiful and poetic image. It probably struck them the same way it would strike us if our pastor said, "Deny yourself and slip your neck into the noose." Or, "Deny yourself and put your head on the chopping block." Or, "Deny yourself and walk into a Nazi concentration camp."

Jesus was talking about death-- death to self. And it is not always an easy death. It is often very hard to say "no" to our own wants and "yes" to God's desires and other's needs. It is often hard to resist the devil. It is hard to give up things we hold dear for something far greater (for what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world, and lose himself, or be cast away?)

How strong my flesh, how weak my will, how lacking my love for God and others! I could probably list 15 to 30 times (or more!) that I have gone my own way today, in specific instances, rather than God's-- whether it be in my thoughts, attitudes, or actions. O Lord, set my affections on things above and my heart on doing Your will. Let me be willing to die-- not necessarily in some grand martyrdom way that will inspire people to write lengthy and numerous novels about all my great feats-- no, let me die that daily death, the hourly death, even moment by moment... and live unto You.

"For whosoever will save his life shall lose it:
but whosoever will lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it."

1 comment:

Rosebud said...

Melanie, that is just what I need. And it is so true. It really makes death to self a lot more realistic when you think of putting your spiritual head (kind of) on the chopping block.